The CCHS prize is designed to recognize excellence in and encourage the growth of scholarly work in the field of the history of sexuality in Canada.Prize for Best article on the history of Sexuality.
Elise Chenier. “Love-Politics: Lesbian Wedding Practices in Canada and the United States from the 1920s to the 1970s,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 27, no.2 (May 2018): 294-321.
Elise Chenier’s essay is a complex and provocative historical investigation of same-sex wedding practices as a form of activism and love-politics, using a theoretical formulation drawn from Jennifer Nash’s work on black feminist thought. Weaving together a historical record of same- sex wedding practices in Canadian and US history with a theory of justice based on collectivity and love-politics, Chenier demonstrates how weddings were weaponized as a social platform to move away from identity politics and towards radicalism despite embracing “heterosexuality’s most defining public ritual.” Within this paradigm, Chenier showcases historical examples that focus on the political work and world-making in the communities and lives of butches and femmes and studs and fishes as they negotiated their activism as a “radical assertion of self-love and queer dignity.” Chenier’s illuminating and significant contribution engages with core debates in the history of sexuality such as race, liberation vs. equality politics, the use of oral history, gay and lesbian activism, and surveillance within a multiplicity of contexts including the military, bars, and neighborhoods.
Becki L. Ross and Jamie Lee Hamilton. “‘Loss Must Be Marked and It Cannot Be Represented’: Memorializing Sex Workers in Vancouver’s West End,” BC Studies 197 (Spring 2018): 9-38.
In a moving and poignant discussion on community activism, civic politics, and the memorializing of sex worker’s experiences in Vancouver, academic-activist, Becki L. Ross, and the late community sex worker activist, Jamie Lee Hamilton, offer a rare glimpse into the trials and successes born from a remarkable collaboration and deep friendship. Ross and Hamilton document the political activism and affective politics that punctuated their efforts to “honour the resilience of ‘hookers on Davie’” while Indigenous women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside went missing and/or were murdered. The authors centre discourses of displacement, struggle, and violence to draw the reader into understanding the historical significance of their commitment to commemorate the street-based sex workers working in the West End from the late 1960s to 1984 with a memorial lamppost. In the shadow of Jamie Lee Hamilton’s untimely passing on December 23, 2019, the article functions to document and archive the work, life, and spirit of a major political actor.
Mona Gleason, “‘Knowing Something I Was Not Meant to Know’: Exploring Vulnerability, Sexuality, and Childhood, 1900-1950”. Canadian Historical Review 98, 1 (March 2017).
Gleason makes an argument for “social age” as a useful category in the historical analysis of sexuality and, in doing so, stages an historiographical conversation between two different subfields: the history of children / youth and the history of sexuality. Using a wide range of sources, Gleason also furnishes a complex analysis of the historical meanings and dynamics of vulnerability in the first half of the twentieth century. On the one hand, we see the often-devastating real-life impact of “expert” control over medical and social discourses aimed at children, which often rendered them more, not less, susceptible to harm and abuse. On the other hand, from the perspective of the young, we learn that shielding children from sexual knowledge generated ignorance rather than protection, which, in turn, fostered misinformation and feelings of shame and confusion about sex and bodies among young people. Gleason’s article asks us to think hard about the always-fraught nexus of childhood and sexuality, both in the past and in the many ramifications of that history in our present.
Nicholas Giguère, “De la revue Le Berdache (1979-82) au bulletin À propos (1986-87): grandeurs et misères de la presse gaie militante au Québec”. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada / Cahiers de la Société bibliographique du Canada Issue 52, no 2, 2014.
Giguère reads Le Berdache, a periodical linked to the Association pour les droits des gai(e)s du Québec, and its successors as a parable for Québec gay history more generally. Giguère argues that in the rise and decline of Le Berdache we can track the historical trajectory from an activist gay press to a more commercially oriented press, from a militant gay politics to an emergent lifestyle politics shaped more by the market. Drawing on the ‘social uses of reading,’ Giguère conceptualizes gay periodicals as doing more than simply reflecting reality; rather, the gay press intervenes in and helps to shape the changing social and political milieu. While much work in Québec LGBT studies adopts the perspective of political history or anthropology, Giguère situates his research in the study of print culture, thus helping to queer the field of book history and print culture in Québec and Canada.
Valerie Korinek, “‘We’re the girls of the pansy parade’: Historicizing Winnipeg’s Queer Subcultures, 1930s–1970,” Histoire sociale/Social History 45(May 2012).
Blending archival sources and oral histories, Korinek maps Winnipeg’s historically changing queer subcultures over a period of four decades and, in doing so, situates queer subjects as significant players in the history of “a region noted for valorizing nuclear families, faith and farming.” At the same time that Korinek queers the history of the West, she also shifts the existing emphasis in the historiography of sexuality on Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver; Korinek’s research firmly establishes Winnipeg as one of the country’s “queer capitals.” In addition to its empirical and historiographical contributions, the article also represents a significant methodological advance. Drawing on the international literature on queer theory and space while pursuing a rigorous historicization, Korinek eschews a “gay history” in favour of a “queer perspective” that “captures individuals who would not have fit into present-day categories of sexual orientation and affords a more nuanced, accurate portrait of queer life in Winnipeg.” As a bonus, Korinek’s extensive footnotes function as an excellent bibliography and recent snapshot of the field in Canada.
Holly Karibo. “Detroit’s Border Brothel: Sex Tourism in Windsor, Ontario, 1945-60,” American Review of Canadian Studies 40 (September 2010).
Engaging and extending current theoretical writing on ‘borderlands,’ Karibo deftly analyzes a range of sources, from newspapers to police records, to map how divergent groups of people crossed Windsor’s liminal threshold to refashion what were always fluid sexual identities. At the same time, Karibo is critical of fixed, one-dimensional boundaries between the licit and illicit, or between borderlands and their interiors, arguing these fail to capture the historical complexities of power and the lived experience of sex tourists who travelled to Ontario’s “sin city.” The CCHS selection committee calls Karibo’s article a “captivating interweaving of events and eras” and “a refreshing approach to sex and place.” Our congratulations to Holly!
Patrick Dunae, Geographies of Sexual Commerce and the Production of Prostitutional Space: Victoria, British Columbia, 1860-1914”. Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 19, 1(2008).
The selection committee was particularly impressed by how Dunae deftly contextualized his rich historical study of prostitution in Victoria within the international literature on the ‘spatial turn,’ most evident in Dunae’s use of Henri Lefebvre’s work on the ‘production of space.’ In this way, Dunae’s article extends in a highly productive fashion the commitment to empirical research and theoretical sophistication that have become a hallmark of the historiography of sexuality in Canada.
Marie-Aimée Cliche (UQAM). "Du péché au tramatisme: l’inceste, vu de la Cour des jeunes délinquants et de la Cour du bien-être social de Montréal, 1912-1965," The Canadian Historical Review, 87 (June 2006).
Tamara Myers (UBC). "Embodying Delinquency: Boys’ Bodies, Sexuality, and Juvenile Justice History in Early-Twentieth-Century Quebec," Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 14 (October 2005).
Cliche and Myers make particularly fitting co-winners, for they both focus on the same place and time, employing some of the same sources--early- to mid-twentieth-century Montreal court records--to give us two distinctive takes on the history of sexuality. Drawing on feminism and the work of Ian Hacking, Cliche provides a sensitively negotiated overview of the changing understandings of incestuous relations, underscoring how sexual meanings are subject to historical pressures and can shift dramatically over an even relatively short period of time. Myers deploys sexuality to complicate in useful ways much current thinking on the history of gender and 'juvenile delinquency,' demonstrating that for some boys, like for many girls, the definition of delinquency could be sexual, even if that sexualization played out in highly gendered ways. Cliche and Myers both have made original and substantial contributions to the history of sexuality in Canada, furnishing studies at once empirically rich and historiographically engaged.
Jean Barman, “Aboriginal Women on the Streets of Victoria: Rethinking Transgressive Sexuality During the Colonial Encounter.” Contact Zones: Aboriginal and Settler Women in Canada’s Colonial Past, edited by Katie Pickles and Myra Rutherdale (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005).
In selecting the articles, the jury commended Barman for her sensitive recreation of both the sexual conflicts and possibilities experienced by Aboriginal women, and for her nuanced rethinking of the identities and motives of white settler men in their sexual exchanges with First Nations women. Barman’s essay also advances the Canadian historiography by locating the history of sexuality within the context of Canada’s colonial past.
Karen Duder, "Public Acts and Private Languages: Bisexuality and the Multiple Discourses of Constance Grey Swartz", BC Studies, (Winter/hiver 2002/2003).
In selecting this article from a pool of particularly strong nominations, the jury highlighted the essays originality, offering as it does a way to think about the complexity of sexual identity in the past. The jury was also struck by the literary qualities of Constance Swartzs journals, something reflected in Duders own narrative, and which lends to the essay a personal, intimate voice too often lost in studies of sexual regulation.
Franca Iacovetta, The Sexual Politics of Moral Citizenship and Containing Dangerous Foreign Men in Cold War Canada, 1950s-1960s, Histoire sociale/Social History, 33 (November/novembre 2000).
An important paper which explores postwar Canadian sexual norms within a complex framework that analyzes the intersections of race/ethnicity, class and gender.
Becki L. Ross, Bumping and Grinding on the Line: Making Nudity Pay, Labour/Le travail, 46 (Fall/automne 2000).
A wonderfully original examination of the spectacle of striptease which highlights the seldom explored linkage between labour history and the history of sexuality.
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